Washington County, Tennessee Board of Commissioners elect replacement commissioner, judge


JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. (WJHL) – On the night the Supreme Court swore in its newest justice in the nation’s capitol, the death of a local judge led to a vote for his replacement in Washington County, Tennessee.

News Channel 11’s Bianca Marais attended the Washington County, Tenn. Board of Commissioners meeting as the new judge was picked, along with a replacement commissioner for District 7.

The late Judge Jim Nidiffer, who died in September, was replaced by Janet Vest Hardin.

Earlier in 2020, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee temporarily appointed Hardin to serve as Special Judge when when Nidiffer stepped down from the bench due to illness.

“I’m not sure what it says about me that I’m the most comfortable in the courtroom, but I am, and I love it, and the combination of the time that I was a defense attorney, and a prosecutor, led me to this point in my career,” Hardin said. “When people come into my courtroom, they know they had a fair shot. They are heard and they’re treated respectfully, regardless of who they are or what they do. They may not agree with what I do, but they feel like they had their day in court.”

Nidiffer died in September, so the commission had to elect his replacement. That vote Monday night, undisputedly went to Hardin.

“I am extraordinarily honored by your confidence in me,” she said full of emotion as she was elected.

Another Larry

The board also replaced one of their fellow commissioners Monday night.

Former Commissioner Larry England moved out of his district, meaning he had to step down. Larry Cate is the new commissioner for District 7 in Washington County.

Cate’s election was not a smooth one, as the votes had to be cast twice.

County officials determined through the commission’s rules and procedures, that a vast majority – in this case a total of seven votes – had to be held by a candidate in order to be elected. During the first round of votes, Cate tied for second-place with opponent David Alligood, with four votes each. During the first round, Candidate Scott Holly garnered five votes.

Alligood had not gotten a large enough majority of the votes to be elected, thus the second round of votes went in the favor of Cate with Cate getting seven votes, Holly getting five and Alligood getting one.

Cate was sworn in by county officials to cast his first vote as a commissioner Monday night. That vote — to elect Judge Hardin.

She will be sworn in at a later date.

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